13 years ago today, I was sitting in my 6th grade math class in my usual seat working on a worksheet. I remember that around 9:30 an administrator came over the intercom and said we would be going on lock-down. I didn’t think much of it. We had lock-down drills frequently. A little while later (20 min?) the intercom came on again and said the lock-down would remain for the rest of the day. I thought that was a little different. I knew that lock-downs were to keep “bad guys” out, and I remember wondering if the lock-down was real. I was too young to really understand the whole purpose and significance of lock-downs, though.
My parents made the choice that they would do their best shielding me and my siblings from all the bad in the world. They tried not to watch the news around us, and they never discussed world events in front of us. I am grateful for that innocence they helped me maintain in such a (sometimes) scary world.
Because of this, I was very naive to what actually was happening on 9/11/2001.
I was 11 years old. The elementary school chose not to let the students know what was happening. We went on with our school day as normal. I don’t remember the teachers doing or acting differently than normal. (Again, thinking back on this, I am grateful for my wonderful elementary school teachers. They were all so kind, caring, and understanding. The next day we all talked in depth about what happened, and they tried to help us all sort out our feelings. They sincerely cared.)
At the end of the day, our teacher handed us a paper and told us to give it to our parents. It explained that we were not told about the attacks. I didn’t look at the paper but just put it in my backpack and ran outside with my two friends, Chelsea and Eli, to walk home like we usually did.
Surprisingly, both Chelsea and Eli’s moms was there. Eli’s mom asked if we wanted a ride home and we said no. Chelsea’s mom walked home with us. She explained that everyone was off work because there was a “terrorist attack”. I had no idea what a terrorist was. It was explained to me that these terrorists were from another country and they attacked two large buildings in our country and many people died.
I was so young that I thought terrorists were tourists. The words sounded so similar and it was explained to me that the terrorists were “from different countries”, so that is what I concluded. They were tourists.
I remember being scared and unsure. I remember thinking thousands and thousands of people were killed. I remember everyone saying that the passengers on the fourth airplane were heroes. I remember being extremely grateful for the people who were working so hard for our safety in America. I remember being proud I was an American.
I still have those feelings today. I am proud to be an American. I am grateful for all the men and women who sacrificed so much on that day 13 years ago, and those who do so everyday.
I want my children to know the account of that tragedy from a young 11-year-old girl. I was young enough that I did not understand it all, but I was still old enough to be grateful for all those who sacrificed their lives. I was still old enough to understand that America would fight back. I was still old enough to to be proud of my country.
I will never forget.